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Monday, December 28, 2009

The Pit Bank

See the group of poplar trees just to the right of the centre of the photograph? Those trees are at the bottom of my garden. :) From the window of my 'computer room' (that's posh for spare room!), I can look out and see this hill. Up until about four years ago the farmer let his cattle feed here. I used to love looking over to see the gentle cows make their way back to the farm for milking and in the evenings for shelter. It was reassuring to see them back on the hillside early next morning.

Durham County Council acquired the land and, while I miss the cattle, the Woodland Trust worked with local schoolchildren to plant a number of young deciduous woodland trees on various sections of the bank so, in the near future, this will provide a good habitat for our wildlife and it will be nice to watch the trees as they grow.

The top of the 'pit bank', Willington, County Durham (click on photo to enlarge)

The farmer now keeps his cattle on land nearer the farm, just over the brow of the hill. I took a walk up there today to take a photograph of them but they weren't there. With the heavy snowfalls we've been having during the past couple of weeks, they're probably being kept in the barn for shelter and convenience of feeding. So I googled a picture from the internet instead!

A happy cow picture

"From my window I can see a field,

a pleasant pastoral picture.

I look again

and there they are,

beasts of stature.

I smile

as they concentrate intently on their meal of green.

It seems

they have no cares.....

so serene.

At dusk

when they've had their fill

I gaze after them

as, one by one,

they stroll over the brow of the hill......

and make their way home"

(by me ~ 2004, or thereabouts)

The pit heap at Willington, County Durham circa 1949

(photograph courtesy of Durham County Council)

This photograph shows the spoils from the coal mine in the town. It formed an enormous double-topped heap. The mine was closed in 1965 and was subsequently landscaped. It's amazing to think that this structure that overshadowed the town is now the gently sloping hill in the photograph at the top of the page. It's such a lovely place to be and very popular with people walking their dogs. I sometimes forget that under that turf and soil, men and young boys had their lives taken from them while at work, that the development and growth of our town was because of the coal found deep underground.

It's because of the pit heap that our town prospered during the 19th Century and it's due to thoughtful reclaimation that it provides a home for all sorts of wild mammals and birds....... and I'm not talking about those mammals who have evolved to grasp a tin of larger and take off up the pit bank for a bevy, though they too exist!

When the snow melts and the cows get back out into the fields, I'll take a walk up the pit bank and over the brow of the hill to take a photograph for you. :)

To see more stunning animal artwork by Sandy, click here.


  1. Well, I'm quite sure that when the snow melts, your pastoral scene will look exactly like the one you Googled!
    Interesting stuff, and beautiful prose.
    Happy new year!

  2. Happy New Year Ethelmae! :)

    The view does look a bit like that. :) Except that our cows are a bit more sedate than the tipsy ones in the 'happy cow picture'. lol They sometimes have their moments though.

    I'm glad you enjoyed my post. :)

  3. Great post Lesley. I like reading about your local history. My mother is Welsh so she has lts of stories about the coal mining town (name escapes me just now)in which she grew up.

    The cows had me laughing too!

  4. Beautiful country! And I love the artwork at the end.

  5. IB, I KNEW you had celtic blood running through your veins! :D

  6. Thanks Debbie. :) Yes I love the artwork too. Her website is really beautiful.